Lord John Grey of Pirgo
John Grey (c. 1523 – 1564) was an English courtier. He was condemned to death for his involvement in Wyatt's rebellion against Mary I, but was released under attainder. He was restored from attainder by Mary's successor, Elizabeth I, who also granted him the royal palace at Pirgo. Lady Catherine Grey, his niece, and sister to Lady Jane Grey, was released into his care in 1563. He was again imprisoned for a short time after the publication of a book claiming that Catherine was the legitimate heir to the throne.
Grey served as deputy at Newhaven (now Le Havre) in France at the English fortification while it was strengthened and given extra storage facilities. He received grants from Edward VI of the rectory of Kirby Bellars, Leicestershire with additional estates in Leicestershire, his family's home county, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire which were confirmed by Queen Mary with additional grants of Bardon Park, Leicestershire and the site of the monastery of Kirby Bellars.
John Grey and his brothers became involved in Wyatt's rebellion which proposed to replace Catholic Queen Mary with her Protestant half-sister Elizabeth and Grey was condemned to death. His brothers, Henry Grey, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Lord Thomas Grey, were both executed but with the assistance of his Catholic father-in-law, Viscount Montagu, John Grey was released, though still under attainder, and lived obscurely until the death of Queen Mary. Grey was his father's sole surviving son but he was disallowed the marquessate.
Lady Jane Grey, John Grey's niece, had been sentenced to death for treason before Wyatt's rebellion. She was executed the month after the rebellion.[relevant? ]
Queen Elizabeth's accession
Grey appeared at court as head of his family, attended the Queen on her first progress to London and gave her a costly gift on the first New Year's Day of her reign. A few months later he complained of poverty to her chief adviser and the Queen granted him her own manor of Pirgo and its house as well as lands in Somerset. He was 'restored in blood', released from the act of attainder and appointed one of the four Protestant noblemen to supervise the alteration of the Book of Common Prayer.
Lady Catherine Grey
Lady Jane Grey's younger sister, Grey's niece, Catherine, heir presumptive under the will of Henry VIII, had married secretly in 1560 without the Queen's consent. The marriage was quickly discovered and she was confined to The Tower. Released under house arrest in 1563 for her safety during an outbreak of plague she was sent to Pirgo under the care of John Grey. Then a book circulated claiming that Catherine was lawful heir and not Mary, Queen of Scots. The Queen removed Catherine from his charge and John Grey was briefly taken into custody.
Lord John Grey of Pirgo died a short time later at Pirgo on 19 November 1564 and was buried there in his chapel.
John Grey and Mary Browne had three sons and four daughters including:
- Henry, Lord Grey of Groby who, based at Pirgo, re-established the family presence at court and in Leicestershire.
- Margaret, wife of Sir Arthur Capel, Sheriff of Hertfordshire in 1592 and they are reputed to have had eleven sons and nine daughters.
- Frances, wife of William Cooke of Highnam, Gloucestershire, son of Sir Anthony Cooke of Gidea Hall near Pirgo.
- Elizabeth, wife of Henry Denny of Cheshunt.
- Jane, wife of Sir Edward Greville, of Harold Court, Essex; younger brother of Fulke Greville, 4th Baron Willoughby de Broke.